COLUMN: As Covid surge sets in, the Enterprise will keep giving you the facts

Let me explain why you’re reading a lot about the pandemic these days from the Malheur Enterprise.

Our job is to deliver information about the community.

Our small team would love to be writing about anything else besides Covid. We are tired of the topic. We know many of you are, too. We are tired of how it splits our community. We are tired, like doctors and nurses, of being cursed for simply trying to do our jobs.

But curses aside, we’re going to continue do our job and here’s how.

The Enterprise will report on all developments that impact community life. That means anything that affects individuals, employers and schools will get our attention.

At every turn, we will be transparent about where we get our facts. The sources will be cited in the stories and, with our website, we’ll work to provide a link so you can read any document or resource yourself. We’re not going to simply say we found something on the internet.

When it comes to medical and health information, we rely on experts. We get great help from the people at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center, St. Luke’s Health Systems, Valley Family Health Care and Sarah Poe’s crew at the Malheur County Health Department.

These people are trained. They deal directly with Covid every day. They know exactly what the virus is doing to our community. They should be trusted.

We report on information from the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including their recommendations, statistics and research.

And we share what local leaders are saying and doing, from Malheur County commissioners to school superintendents to city leaders.

The Enterprise isn’t relying on and won’t report unsupported claims about health and medical care. Sharing bad information isn’t only bad journalism. Some information could wind up harming or killing someone.

A good example is the surge in interest in ivermectin, typically used to treat worms in horses and cows. (I know – I keep a stock in my tack room.) In other circumstances, a specially formulated version of ivermectin can be used for human ills, specifically parasitic worms. But the experts say it’s not fit for treating Covid.

The federal Food and Drug Administration tried to swat down this idea on Sunday with a pretty pointed tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

If you want more information on this issue, https://bit.ly/2UIMWWg is a link to a Q&A from the agency.

Meanwhile, in the coming weeks, expect to read a lot from us on Covid.

The coverage will be on decisions made at state and federal levels that impact you. The state’s mask mandate is a good example. And we’ll seek out local views about these mandates.

The reporting will include lots of numbers – the number of people infected, the percentage of people vaccinated, the number of children sick with Covid.

Our reporting is intended to give you the best factual information from the best sources. Our reporting has no intended bias. Our job is to accurately reflect what’s happening in our community – and why. You get to make the choice about whether you find that work credible or whether you want to instead find your information from other sources.

Here’s what we are not going to do.

The Enterprise isn’t going to try to persuade you what you should do. We’re beyond that. In Malheur County, views have hardened. We won’t try to twist anyone’s arms.

The community appears to have made its choices.

Many people in Malheur County are choosing individual freedom over the community good. Thousands, apparently, feel that acting on their own is the best choice.

The impact of that decision will emerge in the coming weeks. One possibility is that Malheur County will largely escape this round of Covid with only a few sick and dead, kids will get educated, and businesses will stay open with no more harm. The other extreme could be that Covid will rip, sickening hundreds more, leaving us to grieve a mounting death toll and face profound disruptions in our community life.

The Enterprise will report on it all, with no intent to minimize personal choices or to panic the community.

But my sense, based on the trusted experts I consult, is that Malheur County is in for a rough time. My job is to help you prepare, just as my team would give you information on a deadly approaching snowstorm or high wildfire risks. You each decide how to react.

In the end, the team at the Enterprise will report deeply and factually. You can trust we are here in service to the community.

For us, silence in the face of a possible community disaster simply is not an option.

Les Zaitz is editor and publisher of the Enterprise. Email: [email protected].

News tip? Contact the Enterprise at [email protected] or call 541-473-3377.

For the latest news, follow the Enterprise on Facebook and Twitter.

EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM – Available for $5 a month. Subscribe to the digital service of the Enterprise and get the very best in local journalism. We report with care, attention to accuracy, and an unwavering devotion to fairness. Get the kind of news you’ve been looking for – day in and day out from the Enterprise.